Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Page 104 of 187

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees: Part 3

If you want to attract the best clients and the highest fees, you need to understand the commercial value of originality.

Photo: John Trainor

The original Mona Lisa was insured in 1962 for a hundred million dollars and today that valuation would be closer to a billion dollars.  However, you can buy a copy of the Mona Lisa for the price of a coffee!  This is because the marketplace values originality and attaches no value to copycats.

The easy route

The easy route is what the masses decide to take.  This is what Seth Godin refers to as; “offering an average service to average people.”  They attract average clients and have to charge average fees.  This approach is soul destroying and those who take it look to the future with apprehension.  However, it requires little thought, which is why it’s so common.

The challenging route

The challenging route is what the leaders in every field decide to take.  They look for ways to offer a uniquely valuable service, rather than looking for excuses for why they MUST toe the line and do what their competitors are doing.

Whenever I have written on this subject before, people have left comments saying that it’s just not possible to offer anything new or original in their profession.  That is factually incorrect.  What they are really saying, is that it’s challenging, so they quit.  The people get on and do it, push through that challenge.  They invest the effort and energy to come up with something uniquely valuable and then they have the courage to implement it.  That’s why they get to work with the best clients and earn the highest fees.

In a world full of copycats, you can achieve huge commercial success if you seek out and implement your own, original masterpiece!

You can catch up on part 1 and part 2 of this series, using the links below:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 1

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 2

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Is blogging something you fit in after the important work is done?

A reader emailed me recently, to say she is about to start a business blog.  She wanted to know how I find the time to keep this blog updated as frequently as I do, with useful content.

blogging, copywriting, content marketing

Image: Maria Reyes-McDavis

The answer is that I don’t have to “find time” to write here!

Let me explain: I see business blogs a little differently from most people.  I regard business blogs as massively valuable assets.  So, I give this site high priority within my business.

To me, business blogs are online magazines, which provide articles to interested people; with an opportunity for the readers to connect with the author and their fellow readers.

Just as you can’t play around and accidentally produce a worthwhile business magazine, you can’t play around with a business blog and expect it to develop a great community of highly valued readers.

Magazine thinking?

Think of any great business blog.  It provides valuable articles for people interested in their niche, just like any high quality business magazine.  For example, Brian Clark from copyblogger refers to his site as a media asset and his posts as magazine style content.  I have always been of the same mindset.  I see this site as a genuine media asset and I treat it with the respect it deserves.

  • It’s not a hobby.
  • It’s not a passtime.
  • It’s not a gesture.
  • It’s not something I do when there’s no real work that needs doing.
  • It IS an extremely valuable business asset.  Look at this!

This site never needs me to have spare time to invest in it.  If it did, it would be another infrequently updated business blog.  I regard Jim’s Marketing Blog and the reader community here as an integral part of my business, so it gets worked on ahead of many other less important (to me) business activities.

  • People who just write posts when they have spare time, after the important work is done, end up with a site which reflects that level of investment.
  • People who regard their site as the important work, treat their site very differently and see very different results.

The bottom line:  It’s a question of priorities.  Professionally, I place an extremely high priority on developing this site, so it always gets the time and attention it deserves.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to avoid making bad decisions

Photo: Michael Karshis

If you want to know why some business owners make such poor quality choices, you simply need to look at the lack of professional care they apply to the development of ideas.  I call this lazy thinking.

Lazy thinking?

Lazy thinking is a term I use, to describe the process of applying very little real thought to the solution of problems, leading to; low value decisions, ineffective actions and poor results.

I saw a great example of lazy thinking recently, at a late night pub in my local town.  There’s a small sign on the door, which asks people to respect the local residents, and leave the premises quietly.  The reasons that the sign fails to resolve the problem, are obvious.

  • Firstly, the loud, obnoxious people who leave bars making so much noise that it’s likely to offend local residents, are loud and obnoxious people.  They make that noise because they NEED to be noticed.
  • Secondly, the drunks who leave these bars making tons of noise, are often unable to walk in a straight line.  They are hardly likely to read a message, make a decision and then adjust their behaviour to magically act in a sober way.

The pub owner knew the sign would have no positive impact on noisy late night drinkers.  The local residents knew it too.  That’s what happens when you apply no thought to the solution of a problem.  As I mentioned recently, when you apply the right kind of thinking to a problem, you get a far more effective result.

Lazy thinking in small business marketing

Lazy thinking is behind the dumbass marketing you see small business owners waste their time and money on.  For example:

  • It causes business owners to waste money on mail shots and email marketing, which they write themselves in order to save money.  These home-made, DIY marketing messages are almost always extremely ineffective, so rather than save money, these letters waste a fortune.  They also fail to generate the sales, which a professionally copywritten message would have generated.  Lose – Lose.
  • It causes business owners to buy mailing lists, rather than build communities.  In 2011 we build lists of interested people, by attracting them (here’s how to do it.)  We don’t buy them.
  • It causes business owners to add you to their newsletter list without your permission, just because they have your email address.
  • It causes business owners to leave sales messages in the comments section of blogs, without realising how cheap it makes them look.
  • It causes business owners to waste money on ebooks, which promise unbelievable results.
  • It causes business owners to put lots of great content on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc – Whilst their own blogs are seldom updated (if they even have one!)

We place a very low ceiling on our potential, if we apply the lazy thinking model to business decisions.

Your prospective clients have never been better informed.  Thanks to low cost (and no cost) global digital communications, they have never been so actively targeted by competing providers, either.  If you want to survive in business today, let alone thrive, lazy thinking just doesn’t cut it.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The secret of successful selling and magical marketing

Ever have a salesperson approach you and you just know that they are only interested in making a sale?

Photo: The Cynthia

When a salesperson is more interested in the commission they will make from selling to us, than they are in helping us, they usually lose the sale and wonder why.  They seem to be unaware that their prospective clients can sense that they are not looking out for them.  If the salesperson realises this and then decides to link their own success, to a genuine commitment to helping others, everything changes.

Suddenly, without using any new fancy footwork, they are selling more than ever before and people are now recommending them.

Honesty signals

What the salesperson in that example needed was a change in their mindset – Not better negotiating skills.  By genuinely giving the best advice and trying to help people make the right decision, they gave the honesty signals that their prospective clients are always looking for.

One of the beautiful ironies of business, is that the more we care about the marketplace, the more the marketplace cares about us.

One of the beautiful paradoxes of business, is that our own self-interest is best served by looking out for the best interests of others.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees: Part 2

Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh

This is the second post in a series on how to attract the very best clients and work for the highest fees.  You can read part 1 of this post here if you missed it.

One of the cornerstones of every successful business is that the business owner knows the difference between what people pay for and what people buy.

Paying and buying

Smart business owners understand that people pay for the product or service you offer, but they buy the experience.

For example, when people go into Starbucks, they pay for the coffee.  The reason they pay for the coffee, is that they buy the experience of being able to drink coffee in a space, with other people, who also like to drink coffee and read or work or surf the web etc.  They are part of what Seth Godin would call the coffee tribe.  You can buy equally good coffee from your local store and make it at home for a fraction of the cost of drinking it at Starbucks, however, at home, you don’t get the same coffee tribe experience.

It’s the experience that justifies the 300% extra you pay for drinking coffee at Starbucks, rather than making it at home.  Starbucks don’t try and win your business by selling you coffee cheaper than your local grocery store.  They sell the experience and charge a premium.  There’s a very big lesson here for anyone, who is sick and tired of fee sensitive clients.  Your experience needs to improve, if you want to avoid attracting those low value inquiries and competing on fees.

What experience do you offer?

So, what kind of an experience do you offer your clients or customers?  What do you do for them, which makes it compelling to do business with you, regardless of your fees or prices?

If this is not something you have previously given much thought to, I strongly suggest you start.  Thanks to Google, people can find the least expensive provider in your niche, in minutes.  Thanks to social networking sites, people can learn about the providers in your niche, who offer the most remarkable customer experiences.

Unless you want to sell your services by being the least expensive (and you don’t), you better start thinking about being that provider in your niche, who everyone is talking about.  If you do, you will attract more word of mouth referrals than ever before and never have to compete for business based on your fees.  This is what I help my clients to achieve.  I strongly suggest you get to work on it too.

This is a subject I am going to be covering a lot in future posts, so remember to subscribe to the blog for free, if you don’t want to miss out!

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees part 3.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to beat your biggest competitors

If you have ever wondered how your small or medium sized business can compete against the big guys, here’s a tip!

You have to start by understanding that a small business is not simply a scaled down version of a big business.

There are some important differences.  For example, big businesses are run my committees.  Small businesses are run by people.  The marketplace finds it easier to connect with people, than with committees.  Go and connect on a more personal level with your marketplace.

Big businesses are also notoriously slow to change.  Small businesses can change as soon as change is required.  If you get a great idea, which you want to implement, go and implement it.

Your opportunity as a small business owner, is to play to your strengths.

If you just offer a scaled down version of what big businesses offer, you can’t compete.  However, use your advantages fully and you can develop something of value, which the big guys can’t touch.

Photo: Spodeworld

How to build a massively valuable network

Here’s a quick question for you:  Who do you network with and why?

I ask this, because there is a direct link between how well connected you are to the right people and your overall business success.

Small business owners usually associate or network exclusively with other small business owners.  They tend not to deliberately build relationships with the most influential people in their niche.  You need both types of people.  It’s important to connect with fellow small business owners, but it’s extremely important to mix with people, who have the skills, influence or funding your business needs, in order to grow successfully.

Knowing the right people for your business

For example, small business owners will speak with the local bank manager about funding, even though the bank manager is a risk-averse, job-for-life, salaried employee.  If they spoke with a wealthy entrepreneur and offered a compelling reason to invest, they could not only get the funding they need, even more importantly, they would be able to tap into the wealthy entrepreneur’s priceless treasure chest of business knowledge.

The marketing person who needs to hassle people for business at local networking events, or pester people for referrals at networking groups, is very obviously not the best person to show you how to attract clients.  However, that’s the person most small business owners will waste their time and money on, simply because that’s the only marketing person they know.

If you are serious about developing a successful business, you need to deliberately build a network of great people around you.  Take the time to identify and then reach out, to people who can help you make quantum improvements to your business.  Your circle of contacts should be one of your businesses most valuable assets.  Treat it that way and work on developing it.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Wstryder

Is your marketplace REALLY listening to you?

It’s hard to build a community or a business, when you don’t have a voice.

  • If you follow the social media gurus and act like their outsourced retweeting machine, you lose your voice.
  • If you go with the flow, seldom seeking to express your own opinions, you lose your voice.
  • If you run a small business, which looks a lot like most other small businesses in your niche, you lose your voice.

The solution?

Do the opposite.

  • Stop being a cheerleader for the gurus, if you want to be taken seriously.  Look at what happens, when a guru sees one of their sheep disagreeing with them on their blog.  THAT is the comment they tend to reply to.  No one respects cheerleaders or butt-kissers; including those whose butt is being kissed!  Intelligent people cringe when they see grown men and women sucking up like that.
  • Go against the flow when it matters.  If you believe that common opinion is wrong, have the confidence to make your point.  Confidently expressing what you believe is essential, if you want to have a voice.  Bleating the same views and opinions as everyone else means you become invisible.  It robs you of your individuality.
  • Invest in making your small business uniquely valuable, so it has a story worth sharing.  People will only talk about you if you have something worth talking about.  I wrote about this recently.

Who do you listen to?

Think about the people you listen to.  Do you listen to them because they have nothing new, interesting or inspiring to say?  No, of course not.

You and I do not take advice from sheep.  Guess what?  Nor does anyone else.  We listen to people worthy of our attention; people with something of value to say.  We spread word-of-mouth about businesses and products worth talking about.

The bottom line:  Just as you ignore people who seldom express their own opinions or have nothing of real value to say, so does everyone else.  You place a VERY low ceiling on your potential, if you follow the gurus and inherit their opinions, rather than thinking for yourself and sharing what you have to say.  You deserve better than that.  Much, much better.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: The hills are alive

« Older posts Newer posts »